I had planned to write a blog post about each trip as they came to end but as with all the best-laid plans, things did not quite work out that way! So, now, eight months after our return from Greece, here is a report on the 2015 NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holiday …
In mid-January, NaturesLens took a group of clients to Greece for a 2-day trip to photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini. Our base was a lovely hotel, 5 minutes walk from the lake itself, with a roaring fire in the bar & lounge area, superb food & each guest had their own room with no single supplement required.
The first morning began with a hearty breakfast after being treated to a special demonstration on how to turn phyllo dough into delicious Bougatsa breakfast pastry. Once we had eaten, we headed out onto the lake in a boat in search of the pelicans.
This month Pui Hang & I have a wonderful multi-page feature containing a new selection of Dalmatian Pelican images from out photographic trip in January in Wildlife Photographic Magazine – it has some new images in there that we have not published before. Continue reading →
The photo above was taken by Jayne Bond during this year’s Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holiday.
A number of the participants on the trip have contributed in some of the images that they captured, if you were wondering what kind of images our guests capture on this trip, then the below should show you the high quality of the captures. Continue reading →
This is, I think, the last series of Dalmatian Pelican images captured by clients on the January 2016 Dalmatian Pelican Photography Holidays, Richard Coles attended the second trip, that was lead by Richard Peters. It appears that Richard & the guests were blessed with mirror-like stillness on the lake for at least one of the mornings – resulting in some great captures as shown below, but first, above you can see one of Richard Coles’ images in the style that I personally like best, the ‘ethereal shot’, executed beautifully with the viewer’s eye being drawn to that flash of orange & the eye of the bird peeking out from it’s ‘crazy hairdo’. Continue reading →
Dalmatian Pelicans are by a small margin the largest of the pelican species & as a whole one of the largest living bird species.
An adult pelican can measure up to 185 cm in length, weigh up to 15 kg in weight & have a wingspan of up to 350cm. A Dalmatian Pelican’s average weight is around 11.5 kg, which makes it amongst the heaviest flying bird species in the world, although the largest individuals among male bustards & swans may be heavier than one of the largest individual Dalmatian pelican.
Dalmatian Pelicans appear to have one of the largest wingspans of any living bird, rivaling those of the great albatrosses & the great white pelican.
In winter, adult Dalmatian pelicans go from silvery-grey to a dingier brownish-grey cream colour, whilst the young birds are grey. During the breeding season, adult birds have an orange-red lower mandible & pouch against a yellow upper mandible, additionally their plumage reverts to the silvery-grey. In winter, the whole bill is a somewhat dull yellow.
Dalmatian Pelicans are often silent, as most pelicans tend to be, although during the mating season, it can be fairly vocal, during this period it may engage in a wide range of guttural, deep vocalisations, including barks, hisses & grunts.
Dalmatian Pelicans are generally found in lakes, rivers, deltas & estuaries, as a species, the Dalmatian Pelican is less opportunistic in breeding habitat selection than other pelicans, in general returning to a traditional breeding site year after year unless it becomes completely unsuitable.
During the season of winter, Dalmatian Pelicans usually stay on ice-free lakes in Europe or seasonal lakes in India.
Dalmatian Pelicans have declined greatly throughout its range, more so than any other of the pelicans. Reportedly, there were once millions of Dalmatian pelicans in Romania alone. During the 20th century, the species’ numbers underwent a dramatic decline for reasons that are not entirely understood. The most likely reason was habitat loss due to human activities such as the drainage of wetlands & land development.
Why not photograph the Dalmatian Pelicans for yourself?
Lake Kerkini is one of the most important wetlands in Europe & it is easy to see why. For photographers keen to add more birds to their wildlife portfolio, a sojourn in Lake Kerkini provides an abundance of opportunities. Our focus during our photography holiday is the striking Dalmatian Pelican, which can be seen at Lake Kerkini from mid-January through to March.
Unlike many similar wildlife photography trips, the NaturesLens Dalmatian Pelicans of Lake Kerkini photography holiday gives three days at the lake & our accommodation is convenient & comfortable, just five minutes from Lake Kerkini, which allows us to maximise photography time. There are two sessions per day, with boat trips in the morning & shoreline feeding in the afternoon.
Touching down in Thessaloniki there was some uncertainty about how this particular Dalmatian Pelicans trip would work out. Normally the itinerary is reasonably established for this trip with days of shore-line feeds & boat trips, but there was one factor meaning we had to tear up the rule book; the lake was completely frozen for the first time since 2002. Both this trip, & the one led by Pui Hang, were to be conducted during Greece’s harshest winter for a very long time.
The Landrover Defenders of our local guides made short work of the icy roads & we weaved to our hotel alongside Lake Kerkini; this was our base for the trip, arriving we found it to be a lovely cosy place with open fires & plenty of sofa space to unwind & review photographs – I could see why this had proved so popular for the all years that NaturesLens had been running the Dalmatian Pelicans Photography Tours to this location.
On the first day we headed to a very small patch of open water near the dam, the birds were congregating here & we had lots of opportunities for close encounters. With overcast skies the conditions were perfect for close up portraits of these charismatic birds. The high key effect is produced by over exposing & the overcast sky behind helps give pure white backgrounds, a style that works well with Dalmatian Pelicans.
David has visited Lake Kerkini & the Dalmatian Pelicans with NaturesLens for the past 2 years. But in his third year, things were very different. The area was experiencing its coldest winter in 60 years with snow & ice on the ground. As for the lake, it was completely frozen!
But all was not lost, quite the opposite in fact, the circumstances meant the group had the opportunity to produce some truly unique images that otherwise would not have been possible.; here are a small selection of images that David has kindly shared with us.